Lotus Births: What They Are and Why People Have Them

Social media’s reach has helped to spread the word about every topic you can think of, – good causes, lost causes, food, family, traditions – opening us all up to a wave of information and possibilities. And trends.

Trends which may have at one time been considered normal for many but have now become “new” for many more. This time, we’re looking at birthing practices. Drop whatever you thought you knew and make room for a birthing tradition that’s being put in the spotlight right now. It’s called the lotus birth.

What is it? Typically, when a woman gives birth, the umbilical cord is cut and the placenta is discarded by the hospital. Some parents opt to save the placenta to do as they wish (planting, eating, or storing), which can happen whether a mom gives birth at home, in a birthing center, or hospital.

Now, with a lotus birth, two things occur – or rather don’t occur – after the baby is delivered. For one, the umbilical cord is neither clamped nor cut. The other thing that happens is that the placenta stays attached to the baby and is preserved over the course of a week or so until the cord detaches naturally.

A more condensed version of a lotus birth involves cutting the cord after a few hours or up to one or two days. The idea is that since the cord is still providing baby with nutrients and healthy, fortified blood, it will help to ease her out of the womb and make for a more comfortable and possibly healthier transition.

During this period, the placenta is preserved with salt, oils, or other means and kept in a pouch, bowl, or towel. Where the baby is carried it is also carried, but admittedly, the smell of its decaying tissue can cause problems if not handled properly.

Lotus births are practiced in other cultures besides the West, but it took off here sometime during the ‘70s. Though no formal medical studies have been done to supports its benefits, advocates of lotus births say that babies are more peaceful, are free of jaundice and anemia, and are given a boost when it comes to brain development.

However, medical experts caution that lotus birthing can do more harm than good. They warn that the practice can cause a bacterial infection to spread to the baby if parents aren’t careful.

But they also see the benefits to delayed cord cutting. The American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists published a report that showed that waiting for at least 30 seconds before clamping increases an infant’s chances of having high iron stores for months and lowers the need for transfusion. That goes for both full term and premature babies!

Yeah, we know to some of you this may sound like it belongs alongside zodiac foods, yoga, kale facials, and diaper-free parenting. And it might, but many families are opting to add it to their birth plan and find that it’s beautiful, healthy, and a tradition.

What are your thoughts on lotus births? Do you know anyone who’s done it or incorporated placenta into their birthing plans in a different way?